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SLEEP, BABY, SLEEP by Maryann Cusimano Love


by Maryann Cusimano Love and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout

Age Range: 1 - 3

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-399-24753-8
Publisher: Philomel

Soft watercolor illustrations and soothing rhymes encourage baby to rise, soar, laugh and shine. Adapted from a Mother Goose poem, this exhortation delivers hushed good wishes while emphasizing character traits that make for a happy life. Children should shine “like the firefly who glows / no matter how the darkness grows.” Love’s language lulls using a rhyme scheme and syllabic stresses that establish a comforting cadence, much like a rocking chair’s gentle beat. Her melodic messages may, however, exceed the scope of a tiny child’s understanding. Sometimes the language grows so sentimental it becomes clunky and a bit sappy: “From our arms you’ll go / unfurling like a butterfly….” Van Lieshout’s wonderfully saturated watercolors achieve greater success expressing parental love and the promise of a life well lived. Loose, self-assured black brushstrokes appear on swaths of graduated color, carving out shapes (horses, dogs, flowers, ducks) with economy. Fireflies blink, doves coo, a hound shakes his jowls. While words melt away into simple rhythms, the atmospheric artwork pinpoints ineffable feelings—the sense of freedom brought on by a breeze, the possibility invoked by starlit sky. (Picture book. 1-3)